Cycling in and around Birmingham England
No, the title of this thread is not incorrect.
Velo Birmingham 2017 was possibly one of the most controversial sportives to ever enter the calendar with both cyclists and communities at loggerheads between themselves and with each other. So I have been undertaking some analysis on the current political situation for Velo Midland 2018.
Birmingham City Council and CSM were contractually committed to deliver Velo for a total of five years but BCC’s ineptitude completely overlooked the jurisdictional differences with neighbouring local authorities. As a policy analysist, I call this an implementation gap. Others will refer to it as a ‘cock-up’. As covered in great depth elsewhere on the 2017 event, Birmingham City were counting on the support of Worcestershire and Herefordshire completely pulled out and the section beyond Great Witley was abandoned. Worcestershire only accepted after the event after placing thumb screws on CSM and a substantial alteration to the route. If it had not been for late comer Staffordshire County who supported the event crossing into their county, then Velo Birmingham would have been substantially truncated in length.
When Worcestershire finally accepted the event in July and instigated the TTROs for the event, officers also agreed to further four years of support but Velo. Politicians were to say uncertain about such a commitment and the five-year pledge was withdrawn. Instead, they have instigated the review to include inputs from the largely hostile parish councils, businesses both supportive and opposed to Velo, local councillors and citizens. The Tories have been leafleting households asking for ‘views’ but it was clear which way they were angling. Informed sources tell me that it is 50/50 that Worcestershire will agree to Velo Midland at the end of next September. Most of the parishes have rejected the event outright and a couple have been very supportive.
Staffordshire County meanwhile are more sanguine about Velo in 2018, though I have seen elsewhere that South Staffs District are opposed along with local MP and parishes. The opposing groups are hoping for a Worcestershire rejection to bolster their case against Staffordshire County. Staffs CC may choose to ignore parishes but will find it difficult to ignore MP and district councils input.
An announcement from Worcestershire is imminent. If they reject the event what happens thereafter is open to speculation. If they say ‘yes’ it is probable that the Velo Midland event will be subject to very tough conditions, probably financial and with route alterations.
From what I heard from people in the support vans there were a large number of people who didn't finish the course, and the document from Solihull council suggests 40% of participants were from out of the Midlands, so I wonder if the course has been eased a little to make it more inclusive.
I some people consider the course less taxing, which is likely true. But as a relatively new cyclist, 100 miles in a day seems like enough of a challenge without throwing in some challenging hills too. Personally I think this looks to be a good move. And also more closed roads around Solihull and Birmingham will be a blessing as part of the joy of Lets Ride was being able to cycle along roads I know well without fearing for my life.
I guess the thing is the beauty of closed roads is that it attracts all abilities, I did not think the course was hard but I guess if inexperienced that ride up to Romsley would be a killer !
The problem is this proposal is too easy ... I am doing the Velothon and basically flat but there is the Tumble and Carephilly Mountain and descending at speed from those on closed roads is something I am really looking forward to !!